Friday, 9 September 2022 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are presented with the reminder that as Christians we should not live our lives with arrogance, pride and ambition in our minds and hearts, and we should instead constantly place the Lord and His truth as the centre and focus of our lives, our works and our every efforts. We should allow the Lord to guide us in our works and journey, while at the same time we should also be fully attuned with Him and recognising our own frailty and vulnerability, our sinful and wicked state which had separated us from the fullness of God’s love and grace.

In our first reading today, we continue to hear from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, in which the Apostle spoke regarding the importance of serving God faithfully and putting Him above all of our own personal agendas and desires, that we may always prioritise Him above all else. All of us should do what we can to make good use of our talents, abilities and gifts in order to glorify God, and we ought to do so because we are inspired to live lives that are worthy of God and are full of commitment and love for Him, so that in everything we say and do, we will always prioritise Him, and be good role models and examples for others to witness so that they may also come to believe in God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Lord Jesus speaking to the people and to His disciples regarding the faith of those who were hypocrites, using the parable of the splinter and the plank, in which the Lord criticised those hypocrites who liked to condemn others and present themselves as better and more righteous than everyone else. The Lord condemned them for their attitude and haughtiness, their pride and arrogance, all of which had led and contributed to the scandal among the people, as those same people who claimed themselves to be righteous and good, and oppressed others for their beliefs and ways, were themselves flawed and wicked in other ways.

The problem is that those people did not realise that they themselves were flawed or wrong, and they thought that they were better than others, and that others deserved to be corrected and it was rightful for them to correct others for their supposed errors without realising and understanding that they themselves were in need of correction as well. They prided themselves in their ways and their misguided observances of the Law of God, and all these had clouded their judgment and blinded them, preventing them from being able to see the truth. They were misguided by their pride and ego, their ambitions and desires, and by the worldly praise and glory.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these serve to remind us that we should not let pride, ambition, worldly glory, fame, our many desires and greed, all these from distracting us off the path towards God and His righteousness. Each one of us should do our best to prioritise God and His ways above all else, and learn to recognise our own shortcomings and what we need in order to come closer to the Lord. All of us are reminded to distance from evil and wicked ways, and to turn away from those things that can mislead us down the wrong path towards disobedience against God, the wrong path of selfishness and manipulation of others for our own self-benefits and more. Instead, we should do our best to follow the Lord by looking upon the examples of those who have lived their lives worthily before us, the saints, the holy men and women of God.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Peter Claver, a holy and faithful servant of God whose examples hopefully can serve as a good inspiration for us to follow in how we ought to be good and faithful servants of God in our lives from now on. He was renowned for his extensive works among the poor and the slaves, in the areas where he ministered in the then what was known as the New World, in the Americas. He was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary who dedicated himself to a life of service to God and His people, spending his whole life in particular for the care of the African slaves, when slavery was truly rampant back then.

He cared for the needs of the African slaves who were mistreated and mismanaged back then, treated horribly and unfairly by their masters and employers throughout the areas of his ministry, and despite the many challenges and trials he had to face, St. Peter Claver never let all those to discourage or prevent him from continuing to struggle for the sake of those slaves. He showed them the love of God and the path towards His salvation, and was credited for the baptism of over three hundred thousand people throughout his lifetime of service, and he heard numerous confessions while also helping to lead many of them to the path of Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all that St. Peter Claver had done for the sake of these marginalised and least in the society, all that he had shown for the love of God and His people alike, all these should inspire all of us to live our lives in a similar manner, that we may dedicate ourselves to love the Lord and to reach out to our brethren in need in the same way. St. Peter Claver has shown us that as Christians we have to be caring and loving towards one another and be filled with concern not for ourselves and our selfish desires, but rather to reach out to others who are in need all around us, recognising that there are many of those who need our care and love.

Let us all hence do whatever we can to follow the Lord ever more wholeheartedly from now on, and committing ourselves to love one another more than we love ourselves. May God continue to strengthen us in faith and may He continue to bless us in all of our good efforts and endeavours, and empower us all to walk ever faithfully in His presence. May God bless us in all things, and may the intercession of St. Peter Claver be with us always. Amen.

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